Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hole in my head

I get headaches. A lot. I would say on any given day, I have a headache. Sometimes it's just a mild reminder of "Don't get too complacent; I'm *here*" and other times, it's a full out frontal lobe assault. I don't get too worked up about my full head headaches (for lack of a better scientific term) since those are usually tension-related and will go away with a couple of painkillers, but I do get concerned when the headache is behind my right eye. I know that when it starts behind my right eye, it's going to stick around for a while and no amount of dosing with Advil or Excedrin and any other number of remedies is going to make it go away. Every now and then, these "right eye" headaches burst into migraines.

I can count my recent migraines (last five years) on one hand, primarily because I'm so used to these headaches, that I only keep track of the really bad ones. These are the ones when I can't get up without feeling dizzy, where light and noise are painful, and when I need to throw-up. And yes, nothing makes them go away except for time and patience. Thinking, eating, moving, reading, driving, writing -- all of those things are impossible when I have a migraine. I'm usually curled in a fetal position on my bed, blinds closed, covers over my head. Once, I ended up spending an hour on the floor of my bathroom, dry-heaving. That was the worst one ever. And like I said, I'm pretty lucky. I think I've had about 5 of these total in the last five years, and I've gotten much better at controlling/anticipating these types of headaches and learning how to treat them.

I would have to say the same about the "right eye" headaches, which probably happen once or twice a month. They used to happen with much greater frequency, but again, I'm learning to anticipate them, and distinguish them from other headaches which might be related to hormones or tension or dehydration or hang-overs. I can still function with "right eye" headaches, but at a much slower pace. I can tolerate external stimuli well with these headaches. Driving or sitting in a car is just painful though, and I'm generally nauseous. I sometimes have a hangover effect from these headaches -- I think of it as a "shadow" that lingers for another day or so afterwards. It's not really a headache, but more of a dullness in my head that reminds me of what came before.

I envy people who tell me that they don't ever get headaches. I had one person tell me that "headaches were all in my head" and I was like, "Um, *yes*." The thing is, I don't want headaches at all. I carry Advil with me at all times, drink lots of water, try to stay on a consistent schedule, and keep caffeine consumption to a minimal (2 cups/day in the morning). I try to avoid my triggers -- like alcohol (yes, I barely drink anymore) and lack of sleep or dehydration -- but 32 years of experience have taught me that headaches are just a part of Being Seema (tm).

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